The Word Made Fresh
1Jehoash became king of Judah in the seventh year of the reign of king Jehu of Israel and reigned for forty years in Jerusalem. His mother was Zibiah, from Beersheba. 2He obeyed the LORD all his life, guided by the priest Jehoiada. 3Still, the hilltop shrines remained, and the people continued to take sacrifices and offerings there.
4Jehoash told the priests to collect the money received in the temple, including the individual assessments and voluntary offerings. 5“Gather the offerings from each individual,” he said, “and use it to make whatever repairs are needed to the LORD’s house.” 6However, by the twenty-third year of his reign no repairs had been made. 7So, he summoned Jehoiada and the other priests and asked them, “Why are you not making repairs to the LORD’s house? Don’t accept any more money from the people, but hand all of it over to be used to make repairs.” 8The priests agreed they would no longer be responsible for the repair of the LORD’s house, and they would stop holding onto the money from the people.
9Then the priest Jehoiada found a container, made a hole in its top and placed it on the right side of the altar at the temple entrance. The priests who guarded the entrance gathered all the money given over the years and put it in the container. 10Whenever the container was full, the king’s secretary and the high priest counted it and put it in bags which were then tied. 11Then they would weigh the money and give it to the foremen who were in charge of the repairs. They in turn paid the carpenters and others who did the work, 12including the masons and stone cutters. It was also used to purchase timber and stones for making the repairs, and any other expenses they incurred. 13None of that money, however, was used for the silver containers and trumpets nor for any of the gold and silver vessels, 14because all of it was used to pay the workers making the repairs. 15They did not ask for any records to be kept by those to whom they paid because they were honest people. 16The money received from offerings of confession for sins was not brought into the temple, for it belonged to the priests.
17While all this was going on king Hazael of Aram fought against Gath and captured it, but when he turned to attack Jerusalem 18King Jehoash took all the donations given by the kings of Judah who had ruled before him – Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, and Ahaziah – plus his own donations, plus all the gold that was found in the temple treasury and the palace, and sent it King Hazael of Aram, and Hazael stopped threatening Jerusalem.
19The record of the reign of Jehoash is written in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Judah. 20His attendants conspired and killed him in the house of Millo on the way to Silla. 21It was his attendants Jozacar son of Shimeath and Jehozabad son of Shomer who attacked and killed him. He was buried in the tomb of his ancestors in the city of David. His son Amaziah succeeded him.
1-3: Jehu had been king of Israel for 7 years when Jehoash ascended to the throne of Judah at age 7. Jehoash reigns for 40 years. His mentor is not his father but rather the priest Jehoida – maybe that’s the kind of arrangement they’ve needed all along. He turns out to be a good king in the judgment of later historians, but the people still have their religious quirks.
4-8: Jehoash orders the priests to repair the temple with the money they have been collecting from the people. We are not told how old the king is at this point, but it is clear that his orders have little force with the priests, headed of course by Jehoida. By the 23rd year of his reign no repairs have been made. So, Jehoash has a face-to-face meeting with Jehoida and the other priests and orders them to get with the program.
9-16: So, Jehoida makes an offering box that is used for collections from the people, and the temple guards watch over it. Whenever the box is full the king’s secretary and the high priest (Jehoida!) count the money. Workers are hired to make the repairs and they are paid out of the funds collected in the offering box. The building is repaired, but the utensils of silver and gold are not in need of replacement. Everybody seems satisfied that the money is accounted for honestly, and the priests are still compensated with the guilt and sin offerings (the animals sacrificed on the altar).
17-18: King Hazael of Aram is making trouble again, capturing the Philistine stronghold of Gath. He has Jerusalem in his sights, but Jehoash pays him off and he withdraws. The text says that this took place “at that time,” but does that mean at the beginning of the repairs to the temple or some years into the project? It is an important question because Jehoash has just given away a substantial part of the nation’s wealth to Hazael, and that may be the motive behind his assassination that we will read about in the next paragraph.
19-21: A mysterious death ends the reign of Jehoash. His own personal servants assassinate him in the Millo (the original part of the fortress in Jerusalem that was there from before David’s time). No reason is given for this act, and apparently Jozacar and Jehozabad have no ambition for the throne themselves. One possible explanation has to do with the finances of the kingdom mentioned above. There is a hint in this chapter that the priest Jehoida might have clung to power longer than necessary, and Jehoash eventually has to challenge the way the royal treasury and the temple treasury are handled. Jehoida’s actions are suspicious, to say the least, but since he was the high priest, it would have been difficult to put in the official temple records that the man was crooked. We cannot say for certain, but the assassination of king Jehoash seems to be related to his having given the Aramean king Hazael “all the gold that was found in the treasuries of the LORD” (verse 18) – in other words, the temple bank account. That suspicion is also raised by the fact that the king’s son, Amaziah, now 25 years old (see 14:1-2), ascends the throne, which means the assassination of Jehoash was not an attempt at a coup. It may have simply been the removal of someone who had given away too much!
Jehoash is a rare good king in Judah, judged to have been the most faithful to God of all the kings since David. One lesson from his reign is that we should always be aware that being good will not win for us the approval of the wicked. It may, in fact, threaten them.